Judges cautioned against using SNS
By Yun Suh-young
The Supreme Court advised judges Sunday to be careful in using social networking services (SNS) and refrain from commenting publicly on controversial social and political issues to prevent “unintended consequences.” The Public Servant’s Ethics Committee of the Supreme Court recommended this after its 11 members held discussions Thursday on judges’ use of SNS.
“We felt the need to provide a guideline for judges as their public expression of opinions has created a stir recently. We want to boost people’s trust in the court through this opportunity,” the committee said.
The measure comes after judges’ comments on services such as Twitter and Facebook created disputes among the public.
Several judges have publicly commented on controversial issues using SNS, deemed inappropriate by many.
Lee Jung-ryeol, a senior judge at the Changwon District Court, was reprimanded by the court for making critical comments about President Lee Myung-bak and was given a six-month suspension for making confidential information regarding a court ruling public.
Proportional representative of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) Seo Ki-ho, a former judge for the Seoul Northern District Court, was also suspended from duty and failed to be reappointed after he made comments denouncing the President.
Their comments sparked controversy over whether it is appropriate for judges to express their opinions on public figures or incidents as they may affect their rulings.
The Supreme Court began gathering opinions to create a guideline for judges in using SNS.
The committee advised judges to understand the characteristics of SNS and how their use of it will affect public opinions. The panel also recommended judges to keep their personal information and messages private.
“Judges should be careful in using SNS so as not to bring doubt to their integrity and fairness in rulings. Opinions about specific cases must be restricted,” the committee said.